I haven't done a lot of printing lately. I no longer have the access I used to have to letterpress equipment. I also have limited studio space. But I got the urge to print and so I dug out and dusted off the old Gocco and am fully embracing the low tech nature of it and have fallen in love all over again.
What is Gocco? Gocco is a Japanese screen printing system designed for home craft use. It has a small table top press, exposes the screens with battery powered flash bulbs, and uses water soluble inks. What that means is it's perfect for a studio with a limited amount of space, like my spare bedroom. There are no brain sizzling solvents, or inky fumes, which keeps us happy and healthy. And it's pretty versatile in what it can do. When you're exposing your screens your source image needs to be carbon based, that means photocopies work, and many drawing pens. When working with text that I don't want to hand write I do it up on the computer and then take it to the copy shop for a quick copy. Otherwise I draw all my originals. Lucky me my favorite drawing pens are all carbon based - Zig Millenniums, and the Staedtler Pigment Liners. Lead pencil also works, and you can order Riso pens from suppliers of Gocco accessories.
It's limitations - size. Size is the number one limitation with the Gocco system. The model I use has a print area of approximately 3.5" x 5" perfect for postcards, and smallish prints, but otherwise you're out of luck. There are larger systems, and I've got my eye on one. But mostly its small size suits me, I tend to work towards smallish anyway.
The other major limitation is availability. When I got my Gocco 5 or 6 years ago they were still available in the United States and I could get replacement inks and screens at my local art supply store. Since then there have been a lot of crazy rumors that they were not going to make them any more and that they would quickly become extinct. There was practically a movement on the internet to save Gocco. Near as I can tell the Gocco is still very popular all over the world - this means new models, replacement inks and accessories are still available off the internet. Places like Northwoods Studios, Felt Cafe, and Print Addict Japan all sell supplies on the internet, making availability pretty much a non-issue.
Want more? There is a community of Gocco users out there on the internet. There are yahoo groups, bloggers, flickr groups - (Gocco and Loco for Gocco), and Etsy shops - some of my favorites - Magic Jelly, and Jan Allsop.
I love my Gocco - Mostly I love how low tech and non-toxic it is, making it possible for me to print in the spare bedroom.